Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

Blue Devils stick together, earn second-place finish

August 11, 2005

Tim King had high expectations for the Lansing Blue Devils baseball team when the season began.

Most of the players had played together for five years, so he knew they were both a talented and experienced bunch.

Turns out, King's assessment was correct. The Blue Devils posted a 13-2 record in the 10-and-under Kaw Valley League and earned second place in the end-of-season tournament.

"It's a rare team because you've got a group of kids who really want to play baseball, because that doesn't seem to be the norm anymore," said King, who is the baseball commissioner for Lansing Parks and Recreation. "But they're a good little ball club. We went undefeated last year and then played in the Kaw Valley League this year and had another good season."

"It was a neat year," he added. "Each kid played a different position. All of the kids who wanted to pitch got to pitch. Everyone played equal time and we were still able to be successful, so I think it was pretty good year."

The Blue Devils made a solid run to the championship game of the league tournament, but they finally ran into a roadblock in the finals because they had to play short-handed.

"We only had eight players in the championship game because we had a couple of kids on vacation," King said. "But the score was 5-3, so we gave it a pretty good shot there at the end."

King credited Leavenworth resident Charlie Hilscher with organizing the team five years ago. King said Hilscher encouraged the boys to stick together. The Blue Devils have followed his advice and formed a family-like atmosphere.

King has coached the squad for the past four years with the assistance of Billy Dillon, Gary Courtney and Brian Schwanz. Meanwhile, Joan Nye has served as a dugout coach and scorekeeper.

The support cushion goes beyond the parents who coach, though. King said the Blue Devils had lots of positive parental support at every game.

"Having parents like the ones we've got on this team is a huge factor in being successful," he said.

King said the Blue Devils would try to build on their successful summer by playing in an instructional fall league at Johnson County 3&2. He said the focus would be in having the players gain more experience.

"Our philosophy isn't to see how many games we can win, but to get them competitive and prepared for a 5A high school like Lansing is becoming," King said. "I think it's really going to be neat. We've got some talented kids, so it'll really serve them well."

King said the boys would play 12-and-under in the spring. He said tryouts would take place sometime in February. All interested players should contact King at 702-4281.

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